11.30.2009

THE STAR TREK LIST

I re-watched the new JJ Abrams Star Trek film recently for the 2nd time and was not as happy with it as I was the first time I saw it [my IMDB review is here scroll down to bottom of page] ... which got me thinking about making a list of the best Star Trek - in all its forms. Now Star Trek was the first television I ever remember seeing. I was 3 when it first hit the airwaves and I am a purist for the original series. I remember I thought Spock was cool before I knew what cool was. And Kirk was dynamism personified. What made the show great, and a classic for the ages are the moral core to every strong storyline, the bold and vivid production design and colors, the great sound effects, the creative and progressive ideas about a potential future and how it would look and feel, the thoughtfulness of these archetypal characters, and the strength of the relationships among the crew of the USS Enterprise. Every iteration since the original has been a step down (or several).

So here is the list of the best:
1. The Original Television Series
2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
3. Galaxyquest [absolutely it deserves a place]
4.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
5. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
6. Star Trek (2009)
7. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
8. Star Trek: First Contact
9. Voyager (the final 2 seasons)
10. Deep Space Nine (the final story arc)
11. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
12. The Animated Series

Meh:
Star Trek: Generations


Here is the list of the worst:
1. Nemesis
2. Insurrection
3. Enterprise Series
4. The Next Generation Series
5. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

Over time I will flesh out this post

11.20.2009

THE PRISONER - EXPLAINED

Many reviews were quite negative and a lot of people seemed to not understand the story. I thought it was terrific - a finely worked piece of art. Here is the explanation of the story for those who didn't get it:

Six (James Caviezel) in the real world was determined to figure out what he had been working on for the secret mega-corp headed by the Two character (Ian McKellen) - it turns out Two is an eccentric rich fellow who wants to fix broken people and constructed a Matrix-like Village in which these peoples' minds could live and prosper within the confines of the construct and its rules. Another person held the construct in their mind - the wife at the beginning and the doctor/love interest later ... and this person had to be asleep or the construct began to unravel (the holes). The whole point of the story was that Two wanted to replace himself and he cultivated Six because of his strong moral compass. The trials and tribulations Six went through were to test his mettle and by the end he proved himself and Two was able to move on. Six indeed became a prisoner, but a willing prisoner - bound by love.

11.16.2009

IN HINDSIGHT, SO TRUE


Click for >> Clip #2 ... 1:10 to 1:30 ... priceless

11.04.2009

HEROES FINALLY WORTH WATCHING AGAIN

I enjoyed Season 1 of Heroes but it just became incomprehensible and downright ridiculous as Seasons 2 and 3 unfolded ... there were so many new characters, time switch-backs, subplots, secret organizations and double-crosses that it just became laughable. After most episodes you found yourself going "who cares!?" Thankfully the powers-that-be seemed to find the edit button and have pared Season 4 down to size and returned the focus back to the original story (using a time-travel plot device and an interesting new Baltar-like hero/villain) ... and the show holds your interest again with Sylar the dark villain once more. If they would only write Claire's father's character out of the show! [And if they could move the scenes along more quickly - gads between commercials very little seems to happen]

11.03.2009

V Returns Tonight on ABC

The campy 80s sci-fi series V returns tonight on ABC. Sci-Fi Channel has been airing the old series in saturation and you can see why sci-fi wasn't taken very seriously for a long time there - when you only spend $12 on your special effects, sets and costumes you get shlock. Early word is the reboot is good.

Around L.A. some trickster put up these signs on the bus sto
p ads (funny):

10.25.2009

SORRY EJO, GONNA SKIP 'THE PLAN'

The review on io9 of the video release of the telefilm The Plan - the "last" installment of the Ron D Moore version of Battlestar Galactica confirms all of my worst fears. I'm going to take their recommendation and ignore it - there's no point in reheating and making a new sauce for spoiled food.

10.21.2009

UFO

This was a fun show. The theme is great (Hawaii 5-0ish) ... supposedly UFO is being remade too and they'll screw it up for sure (unless Bowie's son [Moon] or Coppola's son [CQ] directs - they get the zeitgeist) ... I've got my own thoughts on the reality of UFOs here ... more on the original series here


video
... and here's a fun new lamp for alien abductee believers

10.10.2009

io9's BSG THE PLAN TEASERS

Bah. My worst fears realized. I had hoped the last installment of Battlestar, The Plan, would redeem to some extent the gawdawful ending to the series but these new io9 teasers utterly negate that hope. Instead of getting inside the Cylons' heads and seeing things as they do it looks as if its soap-opera time and they'll merely replay scenes we've already seen (Doral blows up, Cavil tells Boomer "one shot in the head," etc.) with the priority being to connect-more-dots to flesh out the tortured, convoluted mess of Ron Moore's finale. Ellen as the Fifth - it's the Pam wakes up in Dallas of our era.

10.06.2009

SGU REVIEW


Okay, I wound up watching the Stargate SGU 2-hour opener and it was okay. But, really, they should pay royalties to RDM and David Eick, et al. It is one thing to pay homage to good work with your own work, it's quite another to lift another work almost in its entirety. This image of the cast their equivalents sorta sums it up (glad to see that nice kid from Make Me a Supermodel got some work): we get the stereotypical edgy black guy, the Roslin character, the Helo character, Summer Glau slumming, the Baltar ripoff, Apollo, the Seth Rogan type (kill this character quickly please), and Adama.

10.04.2009

HOW TO DO A GREAT ENDING

The best sci-fi show ever in terms of telling a cohesive tale with a very satisfying ending is Lexx. All the story threads come together rather seamlessly by the finale, and many have had their individual day in the sun. The mix of sci-fi, horror, camp, and satire was a rare gem indeed during its run.

I was fortunat
e to get to meet Xenia Seeberg the night before the last ep aired here in America. She's a sweetheart and as stunningly gorgeous in person as onscreen. For those of you who have not watched Lexx yet, give it a try. If intelligent satire is not your thing, or you don't understand camp - it's not for you. But it is absolutely brilliant - with lacerating insights and knowing winks that we the audience get to share. It is a celebration of science fiction, storytelling and a wink and a nudge to entertainment industry insiderness.

High points are the
First Season 1st ep (Season 1 was four two-hour tv movies); Season 1, ep 4; the story arc of Mantrid in Season 2 and Lykka's end; the meditation on good/evil/heaven/hell in Season 3; and the hilarious romps through various genres in Season 4: vampires, mummies, guns, UFOs, dumb Americans, internet porn cams, Gen-Xers, right-wing US militias, Vietnam, underwear-sniffers, and evil little children (with great guest stars along for the series' run, like Britt Ekland, Rutger Hauer, Tim Curry) make it a classic.

Watch the entire thing, from beginning to end, and if
you're in the business learn how to do a comprehensive story arc for your whole series with a satisfying and poignant end (er, that means you RDM).

9.17.2009

IGNOMINIOUS END TO BSG

Yikes. Not only did Sci-Fi Channel, now SyFy (ugh) make us wait and wait and wait for BSG Season 4 then Season 4.5, now they are pushing back the telemovie The Plan to 2010, which is where they've already pushed Caprica. The Plan may even go direct-to-DVD and never air, and I've read that Caprica production has been suspended (possibly due to bad scripts). Boy, from a Peabody Award for the brilliance of the mini through Season 2.5 to this. Ron Moore really killed his Golden Goose when he checked out mentally on BSG around mid-Season 3.

9.08.2009

BATTLESTARGATE

Well the dark and gloomy aesthetic of Ron Moore's version of Battlestar Galactica has spawned a copy. The Stargate franchise (which has gone on about 5 years too long already) is now set to air Stargate Universe [or SGU] and it features a crew trapped on a vessel trying to get home (kind of Voyager meets BSG 2003). It looks like it will be well-made but I think the SGU creators came a little too late to the dank-and-dreary party for the fans with taste. Probably this will be a hit among the mainstream because they are always years behind.

8.14.2009

BATTLESTAR MOVIE - GLEN A LARSON VERSION

I say a hearty YES to this development. Singer has a sleek and refined visual sense and the core elements of the story remain strong. After Ron D. Moore's version went straight down to the gutter from the once lofty heights of the mini and 1st and 2nd seasons, I welcome a new interpretation by a fine director ... anything to get the bad taste out of my mouth from that terrible Season 4 and ridiculous and idiotic finale to the RDM version!

7.24.2009

SORRY - I DESTROYED BATTLESTAR GALACTICA'S ENDING

The best of intentions can go terribly awry ... and I've wondered if the terrible ending to Battlestar Galactica is my fault. Hear me out - I'm not crazy. Ron Moore and David Eick are on record for saying that they intentionally would take the Battlestar story in a different direction other than what the fans wanted (since they monitored message boards and other feedback regularly) just to thwart them. They seemed to derive some kind of juvenile and perverse pleasure in crushing fan hopes and expectations.

Although not my normal type of night out I went to the 6.6.7 BSG "All Access Event" at the Hollywood CineramaDome because I thought there might be a Q&A and I wanted to assert whatever influence I could through my question. I had grown to love the show (but not Season 3 so much) and was deeply worried Moore and Eick would fuck up the ending. Often, re
ally most of the time, stories these days have lousy endings - especially modern television and film. With the Greek God pantheon and Earth referenced in the Battlestar story it seemed obvious the only proper way to end it was at Earth prior to the advent of the Classical Age, i.e.; prior to 1000 B.C. - clearly the end of the story was going to be the beginning "All of this has happened before ..."

I got to the CineramaDome expecting a bunch of nerds and maybe some tech people and maybe one of the creators (Moore or Eick) and a few clips and then the panel. Little did I know Sci-Fi Channel would lay out top dollar for a full-on press rollout. Red Carpet, entertainment, cameras, the main stars, and both Moore and Eick - and a theatrical presentation of the big Jamie Bamber-monologue-trial episode which ended the 3rd season.

I got to the mic and asked my question/made my statement: Kudos to the cast present first, then I focused on Moore and Eick, "It seems to me you've painted yourselves into a corner: with the Greek God pantheon and the references to Earth, the only way you can properly end the story is in the eastern Mediterranean between 1500 and 1000 B.C." This provoked an intense stare from Eick (sitting in a director's chair onstage alongside Moore, Mary McDonnell, Lucy Lawless, Jamie Bamber, and Katie Sackhoff) for about 10 solid minutes (even after I returned to my seat). Moore jokingly said into the microphone he held in response to my remarks, "Security, please escort that man from the building," - to audience laughs, thankfully. I also urged Moore and Eick not to end the show with a lame time-travel device.

The writers' strike hit and the 4th Season was delayed forever it seemed an
d then Sci-Fi execs decided to milk DVD sales and postponed the second half, Season 4.5, even longer. Well, during that delay Ron Moore spent a little too much time in the sun and composed an entirely new ending to the story: god did it; Kara, Head-Six, Baltar are angels; Hera is mitochondreal Eve; the Colony; Ellen is the 5th; ad nauseum.

It has come out later - after the show ended - that Moore and Eick indeed planned an ending which had the characters give rise to the Classical Age Earth legends - and scuttled it. I went to that June '07 event with the heartfelt intent of steering the ending into the proper direction and it looks like it backfired royally. So to the fans, if I'm even partially responsible, I apologize. We certainly deserved better than the terrible terrible ending we got.

6.23.2009

CRAPRICA - TEEN ANGST BEHIND CYLON GOD

I finally saw Ron Moore's DVD-before-TV Caprica. Glad I didn't rush to see it. Egads, I can hardly watch the original Battlestar mini without thinking of what came later (Season 4 and the finale and now Caprica) to pollute such a great show. All the mystery, all the depth and complexity to the story and the characters of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica reduced to god did it and angels walk among us ... and now, it's all a teenage girl's virtual world. Blechhh

Caprica w
as pretty to look at - not to the level of Baltar's house in Battlestar - and there was some of the moodiness and alien-ness of Battlestar's Caprica representation but it was told to us more than shown and shown poorly (lame tattoos and ganster patois don't count for much).

So the Cylons were created by man: a sleazy defense contractor/computer genius downloads his dead daughter's self-coded avatar into his prototype combat robot so he
won't lose the contract, and this snooty, priveleged little smartypants is associated with a private school that thas faculty and students that have secret monotheistic beliefs.

Moore should rename the show All My Robots and put it on the Soap Opera Channel


6.02.2009

TERMINATOR TERRIBLE

The trailers looked pretty good, and the advance artwork looked good, but the film itself Terminator Salvation was simply awful.

And what is it with red-eye robots (Matrix, Battlestar, and Termin
ator)? All these sequels are beginning to feel like the same story: Matrix morphs into Terminator into Battlestar into HAL 9000. This guy McG is a terrible terrible director, absolutely artless and obviously without an ear for dialog. The script? Full of every action movie cliche and high-school level prose. What garbage. And like the cigarettes and fuel for the jet-skis in Waterworld, where did the human Resistance in T4 get all of their military gear? How is it possible for Hollywood to fuck up these iconic franchises? A retarded squirrel could do better. Sam Worthington ... boring. New Chekov as Kyle Reese ... oh please. The little black girl who knows her way around munitions? How multicultural. The Oracle at least offered Neo a cookie, Jane Alexander only gave the little girl a carrot. And did you see the guy in the distance with the blower making smoke in the LA scene were Kyle Reese and the little girl and the Sam Worthington terminator were the only survivors - who was that guy? On the imagination scale 1-100, McG's T4 gets a 12% for originality.

5.29.2009

REVISITING A TERRIBLE ENDING

Now that several weeks have passed since the disastrous Ron Moore-scripted ending to Battlestar Galactica, it has had time to sink in and I've realized it was even worse than I initially thought. Any fan who has taken the time since the show ended to go back and watch the mini or episodes from Seasons 1 and 2 knows just how far afield Moore took the show in Season 4 and especially 4.5 and then simply led it over a cliff in the finale. It is a quintessential example of creative hubris dooming a show. Instead of having so little sleep due to his commitments to several other projects he should have spent the time watching every episode of his Battlestar Galactica creation prior to plotting out the finale eps and writing his finale. What he came up with was nothing short of an abortion.

What made the show interesting and set it apart was Sci-Fi Channel executive Michael Jackson's suggestion that Moore play up the religious conflict and thus we had a human-made robot race that was monotheistic and a human race that was polytheistic. For once a mainstream Western science fiction show didn't have a conventional point-of-view from its characters. The names and traditions and legends of the polytheists had a direct line to our Earth of the Classical Age and a bit earlier in the Bronze Age. The whole point of the show was a people, crushed by war, were on an exodus of survival to a mythic place known as Earth.

And what happened in Moore's finale? God
did it. Angels walk among us. Give up your technology (and soap and antibiotics) and live among the dirty early hominids and breed with them.

The Opera House vision - a key thematic throughline of visual interest and surreal religiosity was reduced to the ridiculous - a these-pieces-belong-on-these-squares moment. Hera? Suddenly she's Mitochondreal Eve - a minor character elevated to the fulcrum of the finale - bah! And Kara, our reborn rabble-rouser who hears the "unstruck music?" - oh, she's and angel that goes *poof*

One has to wonder, in hindsight, if Moore and the gang got lucky early on in creating such a compelling and at times profound show only to desecrate it with their terrible ending, or if they simply didn't care - position in the industry and other jobs beckoned. The characters and we the fans deserved much better.